D. Assessment Recommendations and Their Impact on Recovery

Recommendations made by the Assessment Team must not have a detrimental effect on the long-term recovery efforts of an affected country. Relief programs can set the stage for rapid recovery or prolong the length of the recovery period. Every action in an emergency response will have a direct effect on the manner and cost of reconstruction.

Many standard relief programs can create dependencies and severely reduce the survivors’ ability to cope with the next disaster. For example, food commodities brought into a disaster area without consideration for the local agricultural system can destroy the local market system and cause future food shortages where self-sufficiency had been the norm. Another example is when the relief supplies, equipment, or technology provided cannot be sustained in the socioeconomic environment of the affected population. When these relief efforts conclude, the survivors may be left in the same condition or worse than immediately following the disaster.

Sustainable recovery depends on restoring the affected populations’ own capacity to meet their basic food, health, shelter, water, and sanitation needs. The victims have the most immediate and direct interest in recovering from a disaster, and most disaster survivors do so using their own resources. Consequently, they may place a high priority on restoring their means of livelihood. Understanding their priorities and providing assistance that supports the affected population’s efforts to restore viable socioeconomic systems are critical to achieving a long-lasting, sustainable recovery.

Recommendations should be simple, support the use of local materials and systems, and be sustainable by the affected country. Do not discount alternative interventions that may be against "conventional wisdom," collide with bureaucratic obstacles, or require increased relief agency capacity. In the long run, they may be more cost effective and sustainable.

TOC: Assessments